There are two groups of poor people. The first group are individuals who simply do not make enough money to meet their needs. The second group are individuals whose income exceeds their needs but who, nonetheless, spend more than they make.
According to Census Bureau data, there are approximately 46 million poor people who cannot meet their needs. They are forced to rely on assistance in one form or another from federal and state governments.
According to this same data, there are approximately 30 million other people who make more than they need but who are, nonetheless, one paycheck away from poverty. These individuals engage in something called Want Spending.
Want Spenders spend more money than they make on their wants. They surrender to instant gratification, eschewing saving in order to buy things they want now: 60 inch TVs, nice vacations, expensive cars, bigger homes and jewelry. Want Spenders routinely gamble away part of their income. They also spend too much money at bars and restaurants. Worse, they incur debt in order to finance their standard of living.
Want Spenders create their own poverty. They are undisciplined with their money. They have been brainwashed by advertisers and a consumerist society into buying things they do not need.
When Want Spenders are no longer able to work due to old age, they live out the remainder of their lives in abject poverty. They become dependent on family, friends, the government or the charity of others. Their poverty is the byproduct of a Poor Habit known as Instant Gratification.
Want Spenders rationalize their Want Spending in a number of ways:
- I’ll make more money in the future
- I’ll get a better paying job
- I’ll get a second job
- I’ll get a raise
- I’ll get a bonus
- The economy will improve and I’ll make more money
- I’ll get more clients or customers
- My children will take care of me in retirement
- I’ll move to Florida, or some inexpensive place, and live off Social Security
Most people in society do not make a lot of money. A fortunate few have the Rich Habit known as Delayed Gratification. These individuals live within their means and do not engage in Want Spending.
These individuals are disciplined savers. They diligently save at least 10% of their income, paycheck by paycheck, month by month, year by year. Their savings grow either by the power of compounding or by prudent investing. When they retire, they live out the remainder of their lives financially independent, not reliant on financial support from others.
If you’re like most people, you don’t make a lot of money, but the money you do make exceeds your needs. You have a choice on what you do with this Excess Money. You can engage in Want Spending, live for today, and rationalize away why you do what you do with your Excess Money. Or, you can take control of your financial life, by saying yes to saving your Excess Money and saying no to Want Spending.
Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”